Laser Driving and Data Processing Concept for Mobile Trace Gas Sensing: Design and Implementation

Chang Liu, Béla Tuzson, Philipp Scheidegger, Herbert Looser, Bernhard Bereiter, Manuel Graf, Morten Hundt, Oleg Aseev, Deran Maas, Lukas Emmenegger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High precision mobile sensing of multi-species gases is greatly demanded in a wide range of applications. Although quantum cascade laser absorption spectroscopy demonstrates excellent field-deployment capabilities for gas sensing, the implementation of this measurement technique into sensor-like portable instrumentation still remains challenging. In this paper, two crucial elements, the laser driving and data acquisition electronics, are addressed. Therefore, we exploit the benefits of the time-division multiplexed intermittent continuous wave driving concept and the real-time signal pre-processing capabilities of a commercial System-on-Chip (SoC, Red Pitaya). We describe a re-designed current driver that offers a universal solution for operating a wide range of multi-wavelength quantum cascade laser device types and allows stacking for the purpose of multiple laser configurations. Its adaptation to the various driving situations is enabled by numerous field programmable gate array (FPGA) functionalities that were developed on the SoC, such as flexible generation of a large variety of synchronized trigger signals and digital inputs/outputs (DIOs). The same SoC is used to sample the spectroscopic signal at rates up to 125 MS/s with 14-bit resolution. Additional FPGA functionalities were implemented to enable on-board averaging of consecutive spectral scans in real-time, resulting in optimized memory bandwidth and hardware resource utilisation and autonomous system operation. Thus, we demonstrate how a cost-effective, compact, and commercial SoC can successfully be adapted to obtain a fully operational research-grade laser spectrometer. The overall system performance was examined in a spectroscopic setup by analyzing low pressure absorption features of CO2 at 4.3 μm.
Original languageEnglish
Article number065107
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number6
Early online date11 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jun 2018


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